Long Time No See

Travel, Travel, Travel / Danube Blues

How intense the past half year has been!  I visited the Philosophy and HPS departments at the University of Pittsburgh in March and April, defended my dissertation (successfully!) in June right before presenting some of the work therein  (“Global Spacetime Similarity”) at the poster session of the annual meeting of the Society for Exact Philosophy, and moving to Munich!  The next few months were filled with conferences and summer schools both local and a bit further abroad, and giving me the experiences of seeing just a bit more of Germany.

Just this past week I was in Budapest (for the first time!) to give talks at the Institute of Philosophy of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Theoretical Philosophy Forum, Eötvös University.  I hope to go back again to visit more of that vast and beautiful city.

Coming Attractions / London Calling

On October 2-3 I’ll be in Oxford for the Metaphysics of Quantum Mechanics conference.  I’ll have a poster presenting some new work attempting to complicate the consensus on holism in quantum theory, in particular that entanglement presents a novel mechanism by which holism is manifest.  In a word, it seems that much is already present in the classical theory of stochastic systems!

Afterwards I’ll be loitering around in London on October 5-7 for an encore of Angelo’s Cei‘s talk (“‘Reflections on Atomism, Quantum Mechanics and Mereology”) at LSE’s Sigma Club.  Angelo has unfortunately had to cancel, so yours truly will be filling in on a pinch!

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The Near and Present Future

Present Future

I’m excited to present some new work on “Global Spacetime Similarity” at the IPP2 at UC Irvine later this week (March 20 & 21).  Here’s the abstract for my talk:

There are two classes of topologies most often placed on the space of Lorentz metrics on a fixed manifold. As I interpret a complaint of Geroch (1970, 1971), however, neither of these standard classes correctly captures a notion of global spacetime similarity. In particular, Geroch presents examples to illustrate that one class, the compact-open topologies, in general seems to be too coarse, while another, the open (Whitney) topologies, in general seems to be too fine.  After elaborating further the mathematical and physical reasons for these failures, I then construct a topology that succeeds in capturing a notion of global spacetime similarity and investigate some of its mathematical and physical properties.

Beyond the intrinsic value of being able to compare spacetimes globally, having such a notion also provides a way to make the concept of an approximate (global) spacetime symmetry precise.  Cosmologists and astrophysicists often idealize certain systems of interest (e.g., the universe or an isolated star or black hole) as having particular perfect symmetries, such as being homogeneous and isotropic, or static and spherical symmetric.  One would like to say something definite about why (certain) inferences from these idealized models can produce reliable knowledge about their physical target systems.  I take part of the story to consist in an account of which kinds of inferences are stable when one moves from perfect to approximate symmetry.

After the conference, from March 23 to April 15, I’ll be in the Steel City to visit Profs. Robert Batterman and John D. Norton at the University of Pittsburgh’s Departments of Philosophy and History and Philosophy of Science, respectively.  This trip is the second part of the DDIG-sponsored excursion I’ve mentioned before. I’m looking forward to much discussion about idealization, approximation, and intertheoretic reduction in the physical sciences with them and other dear colleagues at the beautiful Cathedral of Learning.

Near Future

But the biggest and most exciting pieces of news of the season come from Bavaria and the Upper Midwest!  In late June I will join the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy at Ludwig Maximilians Universität for 14 months as a Marie Curie Fellow.  Specifically, I will be supported through an International Incoming Fellowship from the Marie Curie Actions program of the European Commission.  I’d encourage other researchers in philosophy to check out this program: although the fellowships are very competitive, they provide some of the most generously funded research opportunities in Europe.

Then, in late August of 2015, I will move to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area to join the Department of Philosophy at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities as an Assistant Professor.  I’m especially eager to work with my new colleagues there to provide outstanding curricula for students and to be part of all the exciting things happening at the Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science.

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Paper, Talk, Chair

No, it’s not a novel variation on roshambo — it’s three updates of note:

  1. My manuscript, “Light Clocks and the Clock Hypothesis,” has just been published in Foundations of Physics.
  2. On 12/5, I’ll be presenting “Reduction and Causal Set Theory’s Hauptvermutung” at UCSD’s Fundamental Nature of Time and Change Research Group at the Center for the Humanities there.
  3. I’ll be chairing the session on “Models and Hypotheses” at the Pacific APA on 4/17, including Greg Gandenberger’s talk, “Why the Law of Likelihood Applies Only to Mutually Exclusive Hypotheses.”

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Blurb on NSF Grant

The School of Social Sciences at UCI has a blurb about my recent grant from the National Science Foundation.

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Visiting Seattle

Through a Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation, I will be visiting Prof. John Manchak and the University of Washington’s Department of Philosophy from September 29 through October 12.  I’m looking forward to many stimulating conversations regarding similarity among spacetimes and other topics in the foundations of general relativity.

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Chicago and a European Tour

I’m pleased and excited to be presenting at the following conferences and groups this Fall:

27-29 Sept. “Reduction and Causal Set Theory’s Hauptvermutung,” Seminar on the Philosophical Foundations of Quantum Gravity (University of Illinois, Chicago)
4 Nov. “On the Reduction of General Relativity to Newtonian Gravitation,” Sigma Club (London School of Economics)
6 Nov. “The Topology of Intertheoretic Reduction,” CamPoS Group (University of Cambridge)
7 Nov. “On the Reduction of General Relativity to Newtonian Gravitation,” Oxford Philosophy of Physics Research Seminar (Oxford University)
11-13 Nov.

 “Inference, Stability, and Meaning in Scientific Models,” IV Madrid Workshop on New Trends in the Philosophy of Science: Inferentialism in Epistemology and Philosophy of Science (UNED Madrid)

14-16 Nov.

“The Topology of Intertheoretic Reduction,” Reduction and Emergence in the Sciences (LMU Munich)

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